Welcome Week, a.k.a. “Freshers Week”, is the orientation week at UCL. We call it Welcome Week because UCL has many postgraduates starting master’s and doctorate programmes. There are lots of events to help people meet each other and get oriented to the university.

Some notable differences between my experience as a master’s student at UCL’s Welcome Week and my experience as an undergraduate student at MIT’s Orientation Week

  • As an international student, I did attend a couple of events during the international orientation (I only came for the last couple of days, because the first half didn’t seem as useful or entertaining, especially as an American student who also wanted to maximize time at home). There was a day of talks, which was rather long… but overall helpful.
    • There are a lot of awesome international students at UCL, which I really love! I know there were a lot of international students at MIT, but I’m really noticing all the international students here at UCL, probably because I am one. Also, I have definitely found it easier to meet and speak with international students–among the many reasons, British English accents are surprisingly difficult for me to understand.
  • Of course as a master’s student I have this conception that I would have been out of place at some of the party events and such, so I didn’t go to as many of the club nights. I did go to one of the club night at KOKO and thought the venue was great. I do find it fascinating that most undergraduate freshers can go to clubs here in England since they are 18 and may drink, something that is not legal in the States. However, I would say the MIT dorms put on enough events that I never was bored and the parties at frats during rush week were entertaining enough.
  • Apparently unis do inductions here to introduce everyone to how to select modules, whereas I had an individual meeting with an academic advisor to choose classes. I also have been feeling underwhelmed by information. Things were just a lot more obvious when selecting classes for my undergrad.
  • Pub quizzes are great, but I suspect that this is actually an event I would have attended in the US if I were back in school State-side.
  • UCL seems to take advantage of other venues in the city, whereas MIT’s orientation was largely contained to the campus, except for a few events.
  • Because students live all over London, I don’t know how well students get to know each other at UCL, but I do sort of miss the days of living on “dorm row” at MIT. Proximity definitely makes meeting people and getting closer to each other much easier.
  • Welcome Fair at UCL versus Activities Fair at MIT: very similar in that there are tons of “societies”/”clubs.” However, I will say because of the venue restrictions getting around the UCL’s Welcome Fair was a pain that actually took me ~6 hours over two days to get through, whereas MIT’s Activities Fair had just as many clubs to take-in (I think actually more…) but was just a lot more pleasant (less crowded and less rushed though less time consuming). I’m looking forward to all the spam I’m going to get and will update if the quantity (and perhaps quality) of emails is a similarity or a difference.
    • I will say that I’m still good at getting freebies but am proud to say I am more selective!

Fun pics from this last week and a half: UCL Wilkins Building portico, Pearly Kings and Queens of London, Being touristy on a double decker bus tour